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The greatest expansion of olive oil production came after the 1700s, when large plantings of olives, largely relegated to the worst land, were made to supply the growing populations of cities.
In the late 19th and 20th centuries, the development of low-cost solvent extraction techniques for seed oils and the use of other sources for light (gas and electricity) resulted in a drop in the demand for olive oil.
to represent just one group of widely diverse plants with “ecotypes” or “subspecies” that are located in different geographic areas.
In almost every location where cultivated olives grow, wild olive trees and shrubbery called oleaster or acebuche also exist.
There are about 19 classic styles of olive oil produced in the world, primarily based on specific varieties grown in different regions.
In some cases oils are made with a blend of regional varieties. The author discusses six of the world's most influential olive oil varieties ‘Picual’, ‘Coratina’, ‘Koroneiki’, ‘Arbequina’, ‘Frantoio’, and ‘Leccino’; covers some horticultural history of oil olive cultivation and processing; and describes the most current trends toward superhigh-density plantings and automated continuous oil processing.
The spread of the olive tree probably coincided with the vegetative propagation and trade of superior wine grape, date palms, and fig selections.
Propagation of olive trees by seed is very frustrating, because the juvenile nonbearing phase is so long (10–15 years) and the progeny very often do not even resemble the original mother tree.
Various nonscientific selection processes created a multitude of different cultivars.
World production of table olives is now about 1.5 million t/year.
The “California Style” black table olive is virtually unknown outside the United States, and this very mild-flavored olive is largely used on pizzas.
It is generally believed that the Phoenicians took olives to Spain and North Africa around 1000 , and the Greeks imported the trees into Italy.
The first recorded agronomic writings can be attributed to the Romans, and certainly the expansion and prosperity of the Roman Empire was instrumental in the spread of olive plantings and oil processing facilities all around the Mediterranean basin.